I was talking to one of the members this morning, a newbie, asking how her CrossFit experience has been so far. I recalled the previous week she had difficulty squatting since her legs were still sore from the previous day’s workouts. Though she mentioned that she has now fully recovered from the soreness, she however expressed that she wanted to feel sore again, much to my surprise. Her reason is something I have heard countless times before, how post-workout pain is tantamount to gains.
Having spent a good number of years in a traditional gym, I am no stranger to the “No Pain, No Gain” philosophy. Though admittedly, there are many golden nuggets to pick up from this principle, applying it so matter-of-factly onto how one approaches exercise and fitness may not necessarily be the best nor the safest way.
DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness is just that, that deep, dull, son of a gun ache that creeps up on you some 2-3 days after your workout. Though some people believe it is caused by a lack of warming up or stretching, DOMS is actually a sign of inflammation (swelling) due to microtrauma that happen to your muscles during training. These tears actually stimulate muscle growth (hypertrophy) and concomitantly, improvements in strength and in performance. Having said that, it seems “No Pain REALLY means No Gain”, well yes and no. Though pain is maybe the most common and obvious indicator, this gains-inducing-post-training microtrauma can also present in different ways, such as a dip in your performance or a decrease in strength. You may feel sluggish, weaker, and more unresponsive. Taking other conditions aside, all these could also be signs of your body adapting.
Gains can also be achieved by doing absolutely nothing, it’s called RECOVERY. We often (me included) fixate so much on work and not as much on rest in the hopes that this will hasten training results. However, one reason all that work we invest produce so little yield (even going on a deficit for some) is the fact that we do not allow our bodies to recover enough. Getting adequate sleep, not stressing on missing workouts (GUILTY!), hydrating, and eating right, all are integral in helping our bodies reap the benefits all that blood, sweat and tears you poured out during that last WOD. Though pain is definitely a factor, it should not be the only factor. Having a more attuned, better balanced approach to your workouts would definitely lead to not only better results, but to a safer, much more pleasant fitness journey.
Wod on and prosper!
(Written by: Coach Jamie)